Southend Dentist’s Mission to Morocco

Thanks to Khadija Bakali for supplying the following report on her DENTAID – Morocco Mission in May 2013. Khadija is a dentist currently practising in Leigh-on-Sea


DentAID Morocco Mission 2013
DentAID Morocco Mission 2013

I cannot describe how excited I was when I first found out that Dentaid was doing their first volunteering trip to Morocco, May 2012. This was on the BDA conference April 2012 and since it was too late to apply for this first trip, I eagerly applied for the next year.

I was overfilled with joy when I received the confirmation email that I was one of the chosen ones for the mission.

Being born in Morocco, though living in Sweden since the age of four, this was an amazing opportunity for me to volunteer for the first time, in my native country.

Though I did research on the Dental education, children’s oral health and traditional Dentistry in Morocco, while studying Dentistry in Sweden, I did not know what to anticipate.

On Saturday evening, we were welcomed by a warm and pleasant breeze at the airport in Casablanca. The Sunday included a visit to Hassan II mosque. The largest mosque in the country and the 7th largest in the world stands on a promontory, looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, with all its pride and astonishing architecture.

DentAID Morocco Mission 2013
DentAID Morocco Mission 2013

We were invited to visit an American high school to attend their half term celebrations.

Being first welcomed by the delicious scent of Moroccan mint tea and bakery, we watched students’ presentations, theatrical- and dancing acts and listened to their songs, all in English, only after less than a year’s studies.

I was very soon filled with respect and admiration for these children, so grateful and ambitious and making the best out of the chances given to them in this developing country.

DentAID Morocco Mission 2013
DentAID Morocco Mission 2013

At the end of the day we made our way to El Jadida, so we could start our mission, which included five days of various challenges. The mission involved all from only being able to carry out extractions, on not necessarily a dental chair, in a rural school to actually being able to offer restorative work in a dental surgery, Operation Smile Clinic. We also had a chance to treat children and staff from a Handicap Centre.

The diversity taught us fast how to be flexible and tested our ability to work as a team. All team members consisting of six dentists and four assistants were indeed a phenomenal team. We soon became one, like a family, despite our different experiences, backgrounds and cultures.

Having the hotel located just by the beach made it possible for us to go for a swim, a walk, or even joining locals for some bare feet beach football, before or after a hard day’s work. Where did we get all this energy from? I feel more tired after a normal 9-5 shift in the UK, than after a very early start, a very late finish, numerous hours of travel and field dentistry. The answer is simple though, the children’s braveness and appreciation was more than enough motivation.

DentAID Morocco Mission 2013
DentAID Morocco Mission 2013

In total, with the aid of local dentists, we saw about 2000 children for triaging and carried out around 400 extractions. All children were very excited to get a toothbrush, toothpaste and oral hygiene instructions. Red noses and stickers were passed around and air bubbles were being blown.

Seeing the poverty in this beautiful country was heartbreaking. We are so lucky and privileged to have the easy access to the NHS in the UK, and similar in Sweden.

The majority of these children had never seen a dentist in their life, the distance and economy did not allow that. But to see how brave and grateful they were for us being there and offering a helping hand, made me feel reborn and has changed me in so many ways.

A trip of a lifetime! Priceless and so rewarding! I cannot wait to go out there again next year


By: Khadija Bakali

Dental Associate / Dental surgeon.

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